If you listened to Toronto Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas talk, you had to read between the lines a bit. However, it didn’t take too much to fathom the move that will likely be coming after Josh Ho-Sang returns home to Canada from the Beijing Olympic Games. Maple Leafs’ fans should expect that – sooner rather than later – it sounds as if Ho-Sang will be given a chance to show what he can do in the Maple Leafs’ lineup this season.
When Dubas was asked questions yesterday at an open meeting with media who covered the Maple Leafs, he covered a lot of topics. However, when he was asked directly if Ho-Sang would sign an NHL contract with the team, Dubas was a bit circumspect. He did say that the team would “be keeping an eye on how he plays for Canada” in the upcoming games at the Beijing Olympics before making a final decision.
At First Dubas Deflected Questions About Ho-Sang
Then Dubas deflected a bit to speak about some other AHL players who are with the organization. These included Joseph Blandisi (a 27-year-old center who’s in his first year with the Toronto Marlies and has 13 points in 14 games), Curtis Douglas (the 21-year-old, 6-foot-9 inch, 236-pound center who’s also in his first season with the Marlies and who has scored 15 points in 34 games), and Antti Suomela (a 27-year-old center from Finland who’s in his second season with the Marlies and has scored 14 points in 19 games). These are players the team is watching. That’s all very interesting – honestly; but, then his attention turned to Ho-Sang.
When speaking about the team’s interest in Ho-Sang, Dubas noted that “There are a few players on AHL deals that have played very well there. They’ve done a good job down there with the Marlies of getting those guys up and running.”
But Dubas had special praise for Ho-Sang when he said quite clearly that “Josh is the most individually talented of the group, as we all know, but the others have different elements that I think can help a team as well.”
And, while Dubas didn’t mention Ho-Sang by name, he noted that “As we head towards the deadline, we have to have those players on NHL contracts by then in order to have them eligible to play and be in the playoffs.”
Ho-Sang Gets to Show His “Stuff” at the Olympics
Obviously, Ho-Sang will get a chance to show his skills at the Olympics. However, he wouldn’t even be close to the Olympics unless he did some good things to allow the Maple Leafs’ organization to trust that he wouldn’t embarrass them while he was representing Canada. That – embarrassing the organization – is not something that would be tolerated. The Maple Leafs’ organization is pretty clear about it’s “player-of-good-character” team ethos.
Dubas was clear about that again today, noting that while the organization looks for skills and talent obviously it also prizes character. There’s a reason Wayne Simmonds and Jason Spezza are in the locker room, why Joe Thornton was here last season, and why Patrick Marleau was here the season before. It’s why they extended Morgan Rielly’s contract.
This is an organization that values acting well in the face of diversity. It’s what Dubas talked about with Justin Holl even today – how he battled through adversity this season – and why they sign some players but do not sign others. There was no way that, if the organization believed there was a chance that Ho-Sang would embarrass them by his behavior, he would have been allowed to go to the Olympics.
As Much As Anything Ho-Sang Behaved Well in the AHL
Frankly, the organization knew his skill – everyone did, but they didn’t know if he could hold the rest of his “personality” together. He obviously has. So when Spezza says he’s proud of Ho-Sang, he isn’t only talking about the young man’s skills.
Spezza’s remarks show that Maple Leafs’ players care about Ho-Sang. That’s the case when the big team and the farm team practice in the same arena. It’s one of the Maple Leafs’ advantages and helps the team grow tighter. The Maple Leafs’ players and the Marlies’ know each other.
Kyle Dubas Gave Ho-Sang a Chance When No One Else Would
As Sportsnet Luke Fox wrote, when Ho-Sang arrived in Toronto he was humbled by his lack of success. He needed a second chance. Maple Leafs general manager Dubas gave him one.
As Ho-Sang admitted: “Ultimately, I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the opportunity that was given to me by Kyle.”
First, a tryout. No promises. Later, a one-way contract with the AHL Marlies. No cap hit.”
Good Luck at the Olympics, Then Good Luck When You Hit the Ice in Scotiabank Arema
Here’s betting that unless Ho-Sang falls on his face or does something untoward he’ll be wearing a Maple Leafs’ uniform when the postseason comes around. Should Ho-Sang stay in the AHL for the season and join the Maple Leafs for the postseason, there’s no additional salary-cap space required.
We’ll soon see what the team’s plans are.
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